Roger Bannister and the Sub-Four Minute Mile

I remember writing about this about a year ago when I first saw this clip, but I recently saw it again and it struck a chord with me. Before we go any further though, I need y’all to watch the clip.

Now, REALLY think about that. The concept of the mile had been invented at basically the birth of Christ. For sure, this places its invention somewhere before year 1 AD. Roger Bannister did not run the sub-4 minute mile until 1954. NINETEEN FIFTY FOUR. Think of all the human beings and major world events that had happened between year 1 and 1954. Shakespeare. Newton discovered gravity. Amerigo Vespucci discovering America (Columbus gets no love from me). America won its independence. All these things and all this time and all these people and NO ONE had ever achieved or thought it possible to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. NOT ONE SINGLE HUMAN. This was almost TWO THOUSAND YEARS and it had never happened. 

For those of you that don’t know, Roger Bannister, as stated in the clip, was NOT a professional distance runner or track athlete or even much of an athlete at all. He kept himself in shape, for sure, but it was mostly recreational. He was a neurologist. He was a doctor of the mind. He taught himself various techniques to deal with the physiological pain he would be feeling when running and how to block it out. It was there. He certainly felt it, but he had learned how to control his mind SO WELL that he could finish the run without acknowledging it and slowing down. 

Once Roger Bannister did it the flood gates opened. After we had gone nearly TWO THOUSAND years without a SINGLE soul doing it, we now had two that had done it in the span of just under 7 weeks. From two thousand years to seven weeks. Why? 

So often we place limits on ourselves and refuse to believe something is possible. We make up our mind that it could never happen and this becomes our reality. Of course, everything seems impossible until you see someone else do it. To date, more than 1,660 people have run a mile in less than 4 minutes. It has become “the STANDARD of professional middle distance runners”. Think about that. We went from believing it wasn’t a real thing that could be done for just about two thousand years to having it become the standard in just under 70 years. 

Someone is going to look at that same challenge that you think is impossible one day and say to themselves, “I can do that,” and when they do you’ll think to yourself, “Well, maybe I could have done that.”

You might as well be that first person, because why not you? 


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